Faye Suso held his Graduation Party on Saturday afternoon, and a wonderful time was had by all! Seen here with the RW, Tim and Betty, Faye is wearing African dress, with a MacGregor tartan scarf. All Macaulay’s have the right to wear this tartan, so Faye Macaulay (Hons) wore it with pride! Just what he needed for Gambian winters!
Ian Andsell has introduced me to a new site which may help people access the magazine a bit more easily. Rather than sending a PDF file to all our recipients, we can, instead, simply send a link.
Last month’s Magazine is here: Https://publishing.yudu.com/Freedom/Agtsj/StAugustinesmagazine/
To use the site itself for your own publications, have a look on: Https://www.yudufreedom.com
The Old Testament Lesson today, which I didn’t preach on, brings back wonderful images for me. It was the story of Abraham, told by God, as a “test”, to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham in obedience goes as far as even lighting the fire to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering to The Lord, when at the last minute an angel intervenes, and provides a ram for the sacrificial offering instead. Abraham had passed the “test”!
It has been my privilege to be in The Gambia on three occasions when the Muslim Feast of Tobaski has taken place. (Little Eid). This feast celebrates Abraham’s faith and obedience, based on today’s story. After the Imam has said public prayers and killed his own ram, the people go home and slay their own animals, sharing the meat with the poor who have no animals to slay! It’s like Christmas, and probably the only day of the year when every Gambian will eat meat! Everyone is dressed in new clothes, and the joy and happiness is indeed very much akin to our Christmas!
There is a parallel! At Christmas, we celebrate the fact that Mary’s “yes” to God resulted in the Christ being born. In the Muslim world, it’s Abraham’s “yes”, with all its consequences that’s celebrated. Christian and Muslim preachers will agree that it was a test of Abraham’s faith, and a test of his commitment. How far was he prepared to go? How much was he prepared to give?
That was touched on again in today’s Gospel when Jesus challenged the level of hospitality and kindness we were prepared to offer for the sake of the Kingdom!
But, back to Abraham! I’ve heard it said, often, that testing of faith and testing of commitment are the same thing in this story, and maybe they are, but I would say that in our common life, they don’t necessarily go together!
I have listened to people who talk about their faith being “tested”. This is usually in the context of something awful happening to them or their loved ones, and is articulated in words which go something like, “God really tested my faith.” Wee Jimmy has cancer, and “God tested my faith”! Ouch! What sort of God would do such a thing?
However, bad things, dreadful things happen, and often our faith is tested, but God doesn’t visit evil upon us to test our faith in Him/Her! A loved one dying in a cancer ward can be a severe test of our faith, but God didn’t send the cancer!
However, I do believe that God tests our commitment on a regular basis. Many times every day in fact! We have an Incarnational faith, and Jesus is to be seen in every single person we meet. It’s easy to talk about the down-and-outs drinking super lager down by the quay, or the kids addicted to heroin in our communities. “There”, the preacher tells us, “we find Jesus, crucified still, crying out for resurrection”. And the preacher is right!
However we meet Jesus in every person we encounter in our daily lives. How we react to that person or with that person is crucial because we are interacting with Jesus himself! Even in family and friends, we encounter Jesus as part of their humanity. If we “fall out” with someone, we fall out with Jesus himself, and that is why we need to be reconciled to each other. Why are we nasty about others, often, when within that person we should be recognising Our Lord Himself?
So, God is forever testing our commitment. Our commitment to the Gospel, our commitment to living it, and our commitment to responding to Him properly in the faces of everyone we meet and inter-react with.
And that’s the sermon that was never preached! It may just end up being the pastoral letter in next month’s magazine instead!
Today we are walking the Helensburgh Upland Way.
Meet at The Hill House car park at 1.30 pm.
Visiting Kilcreggan on this date, by boat, as we have not yet mastered walking on water! Meet at Helensburgh pier for the 10.50 ferry.
We return to Helensburgh at 3pm unless anyone wishes to stay longer and use the hourly bus! Anyone who prefers to drive can meet the sailors at Kilcreggan pier at 11.15am. Enjoy!
Readings and News for today’s Services.
No football to go to, (so looking forward to the new season), sermon to write, the RW off to lunch with friends, and Doctor Who finale to look forward to!
And a Gambian afternoon to fill in the spaces! Faye graduated on Thursday and we’re having a Gambian celebration this afternoon, peanut soup et al!
Wonderful evening last night with great friends, T & M, where we scoffed an Indian carry-out and told each other funny stories and laughed like drains. How I enjoy their company!
So, back to mince & tatties tomorrow! – and a Euro 2008 final!
The Pastor and his son Every Sunday afternoon, after the morning service at the church, the Pastor and his eleven year old son would go out into their town and hand out Gospel Tracts. This particular Sunday afternoon, as it came time for the Pastor and his son to go to the streets with their tracts, it was very cold outside, as well as pouring down rain.The boy bundled up in his warmest and driest clothes and said, “OK, dad, I’m ready.”
His Pastor dad asked, “Ready for what?”
“Dad, it’s time we gather our tracts together and go out.”
Dad responds, “Son, it’s very cold outside and it’s pouring down rain.”
The boy gives his dad a surprised look, asking, “But Dad, aren’t people still needing to hear about God, even though it’s raining?”
Dad answers, “Son, I am not going out in this weather.”
Despondently, the boy asks, “Dad, can I go? Please?”
His father hesitated for a moment then said, “Son, you can go. Here are the tracts, be careful son.”
And with that, he was off and out into the rain. This eleven year old boy walked the streets of the town going door to door and handing everybody he met in the street a Gospel Tract. After two hours of walking in the rain, he was soaking, bone-chilled wet and down to his VERY LAST TRACT. He stopped on a corner and looked for someone to hand a tract to, but the streets were totally deserted. Then he turned toward the first home he saw and started up the sidewalk to the front door and rang the door bell. He rang the bell, but nobody answered. He rang it again and again, but still no one answered. He waited but still no answer.
Finally, this eleven year old trooper turned to leave, but something stopped him. Again, he turned to the door and rang the bell and knocked loudly on the door with his fist. He waited, something holding him there on the front porch. He rang again and this time the door slowly opened. Standing in the doorway was a very sad-looking elderly lady. She softly asked, “What can I do for you, son?” With radiant eyes and a smile that lit up her world, this little boy said, “Ma’am, I’m sorry if I disturbed you, but I just want to tell you that *JESUS REALLY DOES LOVE YOU* and I came to give you my very last Gospel Tract which will tell you all about JESUS and His great LOVE.” With that, he handed her his last tract and turned to leave. She called to him as he departed. “Thank you, son! And God Bless You!”
Well, the following Sunday morning in church Pastor Dad was in the pulpit. As the service began, he asked,
“Does anybody have testimony or want to say anything?”
Slowly, in the back row of the church, an elderly lady stood to her feet.
As she began to speak, a look of glorious radiance came from her face, “No one in this church knows me. I’ve never been here before. You see, before last Sunday I was not a Christian. My husband passed on some time ago, leaving me totally alone in this world. Last Sunday, being a particularly cold and rainy day, it was even more so in my heart that I came to the end of the line where I no longer had any hope or will to live. So I took a rope and a chair and ascended the stairway into the attic of my home. I fastened the rope securely to a rafter in the roof, then stood on the chair and fastened the other end of the rope around my neck. Standing on that chair, so lonely and brokenhearted I was about to leap off, when suddenly the loud ringing of my doorbell downstairs startled me. I thought, “I’ll wait a minute, and whoever it is will go away.”
I waited and waited, but the ringing doorbell seemed to get louder and more insistent, and then the person ringing also started knocking loudly. I thought to myself again, “Who on earth could this be? Nobody ever rings my bell or comes to see me.” I loosened the rope from my neck and started for the front door, all the while the bell rang louder and louder. When I opened the door and looked I could hardly believe my eyes, for there on my front porch was the most radiant and angelic little boy I had ever seen in my life. His SMILE, oh, I could never describe it to you! The words that came from his mouth caused my heart that had long been dead, TO LEAP TO LIFE as he exclaimed with a cherub-like voice, “Ma’am, I just came to tell you that JESUS REALLY DOES LOVE YOU.”
Then he gave me this Gospel Tract that I now hold in my hand. As the little angel disappeared back out into the cold and rain, I closed my door and read slowly every word of this Gospel Tract. Then I went up to my attic to get my rope and chair. I wouldn’t be needing them any more. You see—I am now a Happy Child of the KING. Since the address of your church was on the back of this Gospel Tract, I have come here to personally say THANK YOU to God’s little angel who came just in the nick of time and by so doing, spared me my very life.”
There was not a dry eye in the church. And as shouts of praise and honor to THE KING resounded off the very rafters of the building, Pastor Dad descended from the pulpit to the front pew where the little angel was seated. He took his son in his arms and sobbed uncontrollably. Probably no church has had a more glorious moment, and probably this universe has never seen a Papa that was more filled with love & honour for his son…
Now I don’t care if the story is true or not, but it warmed the cockles of my heart! – Kenny
Mrs Blethers was encouraging me to write my PofV on Tuesday evening’s service, and having ascertained from ye olde English teacher that she meant “Point of View”, I decided that I owed the “Blog” some sort of personal reflection! So here goes…….
In lots of ways it was like going back to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs! I’ll explain. When I was a boy, this film had such an effect on me that I returned to see it again and again. In my thirties I had the opportunity to see it again, and it still held the same magic for me!
So it was on Tuesday. I was revisiting the church of my childhood, and indeed the church I was ordained into. High Mass, bells and smells, sung gloria, creed, sursum corda, proper preface, pater noster, the lot. I hadn’t even forgotten the tunes! It was a “Snow White” experience, and I loved every minute of it! The magic, the dignity, the feel of something completely sacred. It was just wonderful!
The 1970 Liturgy was the catalyst for my “conversion” and my offering of myself for ordination, so the Liturgy will always be special for me. Being surrounded by so many friends, including priests that I admire greatly, was simply a tremendous bonus!
To be surrounded by so much love was something I will never forget, and at some points I had to hold back the tears.
Down points? The fact that neither my son nor my father could attend. Also, I must confess, the number of St Auggie’s folk who chose to stay away because of the “High Church” that was on offer. I guess in a parish where there wasn’t a candle on display 12 years ago, this is understandable, but it did hurt a bit. It’s not as if this is going to be a common event.
The upside was that those who did attend all remarked on the beauty of it all, and thoroughly enjoyed it!
I’m still making up my mind about the Country & Western impromptu hymn that followed the communion, but it seemed to be appreciated, and, hey, this is St Augustine’s after all, where anything can happen.
My thanks again to all who made it such a terrific event! You know who you are!